Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that affects the central nervous system (CNS). In MS, the immune system attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, leading to a host of symptoms and complications. The cause of MS is not entirely known, though immune system function, genetics, exposure to infections, and environmental factors are thought to play a role.
Though incurable, MS treatment is available, and recognizing the early warning signs of MS is vital to catching the disease in its early stages:
1. Weakness or fatigue
Fatigue is a very common early sign of MS. Lassitude, or “MS fatigue” is a kind of fatigue particular to MS. MS fatigue comes on abruptly, typically occurs every day, and can be debilitating. A person with MS might also experience fatigue as a result of nighttime waking or depression. Weakness is another symptom and can be caused by the nerve damage characteristic of MS or lack of activity and muscle use.
MS can present in balance problems or dizziness. This can lead to a lack of coordination, particularly in walking. Difficulties in equilibrium are caused by lesions in CNS that affect visual and spatial awareness.
3. Bladder and bowel dysfunction
MS may lead to loss of bladder control, including frequent or urgent urination, the inability to urinate, and accidents. These issues are also caused by lesions in the CNS, namely in areas controlling the bladder.
4. Cognitive issues
Difficulty in cognition is a common, early symptom of MS. This can affect a person’s ability to process information, concentrate, plan and organize. It can also produce difficulties in perception, attention, decision-making, and memory. Cognitive symptoms are typically mild in MS, and often only one or two areas of cognition are affected.
5. Vision problems
Vision problems are often the first sign of MS. This is due to the effect of the disease on the optic nerve, which is part of the CNS. Eyesight difficulties may include pain, blurred vision, involuntary movement of the eyes, and double vision.
6. Tingling and numbness
Tingling and numbness is another early symptom of MS. This occurs primarily in the limbs. Numbness occurs as a loss of sensation and may affect a person’s ability to walk, eat, or perform other day-to-day functions. Tingling, on the other hand, resembles a pin and needles sensation.
7. Pains and spasms
Neuropathic pain in MS is caused by damage to the nerves. This pain may be acute, lasting only a short while, or chronic. A person with MS might also experience pain associated with changes in the way they move due to other symptoms of MS, namely numbness and weakness. Placing more weight on one leg, for example, may lead to pain or stiffness in the other leg. Muscle spasms are a common symptom of MS. These occur primarily in the legs and range in severity from a feeling of involuntary stiffening of the muscle to a painful spasm.
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, consider reaching out to your doctor or a medical practitioner to get the appropriate diagnosis.